The main plus is that they avoid the usual problems that headphones sometimes present, such as not being able to sleep on your side or feeling uncomfortable at night.
There are 3 different styles of pillow speaker, each of which I’ll be looking at in this review:
- Flat under-pillow speakers.
- Small speakers you can place where you like.
- Memory foam pillows with built-in speakers.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve tested a range of these to see how they measure up in terms of sound quality, comfort, practicality and not disturbing your partner.
Hopefully you’ll find one which allows you to listen to your music comfortably and privately at night.
1. C.Crane Soft Speaker
Soft and convenient pillow speaker you can place where you like
The C.Crane pillow speaker is my top pick because of the freedom it gives you to place it exactly where you like. And unlike many other compact pillow speakers, it has a foam casing with a soft cover, allowing you to place it directly under your ear.
You can place it under your pillow if you like, but you might find the volume a bit too low if you have a particularly thick or dense pillow. So it’s better to place it next to your head, either under your ear or just next to it on the pillow.
As you’d expect from such a small piece of kit, it may not be the loudest of pillow speakers, but the sound quality is clear and good enough for nighttime listening. And the small size means it’s unobtrusive in the bed, and also convenient to pack in your luggage when you travel.
Having an in-line volume control on the wire is handy, especially if you need to adjust the volume in the dark. You can find it easily and don’t have to fiddle with buttons – just slide the control in the direction you need.
The cable is long enough to reach a bedside table, with a standard headphone jack that will work with smart phones, tablets, radios and TVs.
So if all you need is a simple speaker that has reasonable sound quality, is unobtrusive and you can place where you like, this is a great little pillow speaker to try.
Available at: amazon.com
Flat digital speaker that sits under your pillow
The PillowSonic FM15 is essentially a long rectangular insert that you can slide under any pillow. It contains 2 flat, digital micro-speakers, encased in a thin foam so you won’t feel them through the pillow.
The fact that it has 2 speakers means you have stereo sound, so you get more of the modern feel you’re probably used to when listening to music.
The sound quality is pretty good, especially compared to most other pillow speakers, which are typically a little underwhelming. And importantly, you can easily find a volume which only you can hear.
You can plug the PillowSonic into any audio device that has a 3.5mm connector (almost all devices these days). So your mobile phone, tablet, MP3 player, radio or TV should all be compatible.
The cable is long enough to stretch to a bedside table, and has a useful in-line volume control so you can quickly and easily change the volume in the night.
Overall, the PillowSonic does the job well and can be neatly hidden under your existing pillow. It has a simple yet sturdy design, with good enough sound quality to enjoy your music.
3. L’Elegance Memory Foam Pillow Speaker
Memory foam pillow with built-in speakers
As you’d expect from a memory foam pillow, the L’Elegance pillow speaker is very comfortable to sleep on. It has a curved middle to cradle your neck, which helps keep your head in the best position to hear your music, and also adds an added feeling of comfort.
There are two speakers inside the center of the pillow, providing you with good stereo sound. As with all pillow speakers, the speakers aren’t particularly powerful. But what I liked is that you can have them on maximum volume and nobody else will hear them.
The cord is the usual 3.5mm jack which you can plug in to any modern device. There’s no volume control on the cord though, so you have to access your device to adjust the volume.
My main criticism is that you have to get a whole pillow, not just a speaker you can add to your current bedding choice. It only comes in one shape and size, which I’d probably describe as between low to middle height, and medium firmness.
If you like memory foam pillows and were thinking of getting one anyway, this could be a great choice. But if you don’t want a new addition to your pillow collection, you might find one of the other options more suitable.
Available at: Amazon.com
4. Sangean Pillow Speaker
Small speaker with good volume and in-line volume control
The Sangean PS-300 pillow speaker is a versatile little pillow speaker which shares some similarities with the C. Crane. Again, it consists of one small and unobtrusive speaker and also has an in-line volume control.
The main difference is that it’s not designed to be placed directly under your ear since it has no padding or material casing. Instead, you can either place it under your pillow, inside your pillow case, or next to your ear if you prefer.
The sound quality is good enough for the quiet levels you would want at night when falling asleep. It’s marketed as having a volume boosting amplifier, but the reality is that the normal volume on max setting is a bit too low.
So you’ll probably find you want the booster on at all times. That means using a battery rather than the direct speaker option, though the battery does last a long time.
The cable is long enough to reach a bedside table, and there’s a volume control slider on the wire, so you don’t need to access your device in the night. And the jack will plug into any phone or mp3 player.
Overall, the Sangean is a neat little pillow speaker with good enough sound, and you can place it wherever you find convenient and comfortable. But given the similarities in general, I’d probably stick with the C.Crane because of its soft casing.
Available at: amazon.com